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Structure vs. Imagery - what gives?

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Postby TheDataHacker » Fri Aug 30, 2002 10:37 pm

I am sitting in my car. It's midnight. I feel exhausted. Too much work, too much school, not enough fun. I make sure I lock my car door, and head inside the house. I unlock, open the door to my bedroom, turning on the light.

Inside my room.

I see my bed. On the bed is my pile of clothes. Next to my bed I can see my guitars. Also here is a network of computers, lining the opposite wall.

Sit.

I sit down at one of my computers.

Look at computer.

I look at computer screen. The computer is in sleep mode.

Turn on computer.

I move the mouse, and my computer wakes.

Run adrift

I click on the adrift icon, and a new window opens up, floating over the desktop. The game I had been making. Then as quickly as it apeared, the window closes, and I find myself staring at nothing. No computer. No room. No bed... no darkness, in fact, everything around me is just... blank!

"Not a lot in there," a familiar voice cants, echoing behind me.
Turning myself, my eyes are assaulted by a bizarre emsemble of colors, wrapped around the image of a jester. Before I can free the words dancing at my lips, the jester snaps his fingers as he sings, "Lets have a drink, shall we?" As suddenly, the blankness is torn away, unveiling a noisy, folksy room. I recognize this bar, though I've never been here before. The torches chandeliered from the rafters give birth to a myriad of shadows creeping about everything I can see. The peasant looking people and the conglomeration of liquors scattered in the room seem to be the only things not hewn of wood. Everyone is chattering to each other in a strange dialect, ordering drinks and wandering about, sitting down and standing up to leave. I feel as though I recognize some of their faces.

"This, this is..." I mutter in awe.

"Yes, yes, I know" the jester continues in his singsong voice. "This is the bar you saw before." The table grunts in a deep tone to the glasses set heavily upon it by a dark haired woman, who barely fits into her corset. The jester watches as she walks away.

"How... you.. look like..." I begin.

"Try not to think so much." The jester leers, lifting the glass. "I look like you of course, because you imagined me this way."

I push back the glass in front of me, trying to make some sense of what I'm seeing. The round, wet footprint of the cold glass darkens the unpolished wood of the table under my hands. "How is this possible?" I wonder aloud. "Am I dreaming?"

"What is the dream," the jester pokes at me, "and what is the waking? How can a man know what is real, and what he has made up for himself?" Leaping onto the chair, the jester begins spinning around. "Where are we now, in a dream? In a room? Or somewhere else?" The jester flips onto the floor again, and the room in turn begins to spin around him, a wet painting bluring all its colors.

Then it stops, and I'm lying in the dirt, staring up at a massive building. Every detail of the building is intimidating, from the blackened gargoyles scowling on it's high roof and hanging on the sharp pointed gables, to it's shadowy slit windows looking out maliciously on the world. Lightning arcs from cloud to cloud above me, the storm tossing the withered trees surrounding me from side to side. I push the ground away from me, standing up on my feet. A long heavy object bumps my leg, and I recognize the sword I've scribbled out on paper several times before. I know this place -- however frightening it appears before me -- it is the residence of the dark and evil wizard I invented as the antagonist of my story... only... none of that was real! None of it can be real, because I made it up!

"What strange things a man invents to himself," the jester continues to cant. "Enemies, friends. Cities, laws, borders, rules. How does he know they are true?" I barely hear him, my mind trying to wrap around what is happening.

"This can't be real... I made it up." I decide aloud, blinking my eyes repeatedly.

"Really? Why does that matter?" The jester responds condescendingly, pulling on a branch of the withered tree above him. The dry brittle wood cracks under the pressure, the jester stripping it down to a single stick.

"Things you make up only exist it your head." I finally reply. The jester walks up closely to me, looking at me as though I were a young child.

"No, you poor fool", he whispers affectionately, "Everything only exists in your head. You are the one who interprets all you see, hear, touch..." I close my eyes again. No! Not true! Something must be real, something... my room! My room is real, that's where I was before all of this. Just think, concentrate... my room is real, I'm in my room right now! My room is real, myroomisreal myroomisreal myroomisreal.
"If that's what you want" I hear the jester sigh, his voice echoing and far away. The wind tossing my hair about quiets to a constant hum. I open my eyes.

My room.

I see my room. The fan is on. My computers are here. Also here are my guitars.

Stand up, look.

I see my bed. On my bed is pile of clothes.

Move my clothes, lie down.

On my bed, my head is quiet. I sleep.



Edited By TheDataHacker on 31 Aug. 2002 at 00:56
"Somebody set us up the bomb."

"Who you callin scruffy lookin?"
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Postby TheDataHacker » Sat Aug 31, 2002 7:53 am

Yeah... i dont have much time for writing so it's gonna stay rough, but i like the end.

i was thinking about the challenge of maintaining balance in a game between structure (this object is here, this object has these qualities) and imagery (like metaphors, good descriptive statements - and things you can imply in different ways) I'm not terribly good at it.. maybe y'all would like to sample how you do it...
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Postby ds490 » Sat Aug 31, 2002 6:01 pm

That's a great piece of fiction, DataHacker. Too bad you weren't around for the Non-Stop Writing Challenge...



Edited By ds490 on 31 Aug. 2002 at 14:01
~ ds490
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Postby Matt (Dark Baron) » Sat Aug 31, 2002 7:57 pm

More importantly.
Cool, i read it.
What guitars you got.
Me got candy apple squire strat with marshall 15w with dfx.
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Postby TheDataHacker » Sat Aug 31, 2002 9:14 pm

I got me wine-red gibson les paul, my fav, and mock rickenbacker, and fender telecaster, and epiphone acoustic. mashall 4x10's cab but i killed my amp, so no noise right now...

What do you guys do to avoid too much 'structure' in a game?
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Postby The Mad Monk » Sun Sep 01, 2002 3:07 am

I have a school-issue baritone sax and a Gemeinhardt flute.

What do I do to avoid too much structure?... Write like I usually do.
In related news, Kenneth Ham reveals that he knows precisely squat about fossils. Film at eleven.

That's Poodle's lovely avatar up there...
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Postby ds490 » Sun Sep 01, 2002 3:21 am

Heheh...instruments...I used to play the flute for school, but now that I'm choosing my courses, I'm not taking Music. So now I don't play the flute. Thank god...you wouldn't want to hear my play...

Structure? Bah.
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Postby Mystery » Sun Sep 01, 2002 4:37 am

LOL- I'll won't say what I was going to.
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Postby TheDataHacker » Sun Sep 01, 2002 9:28 am

i used to play the trumpet, but i wont admit anything else about that.
guitar is the instrument i choose because of it's broad versatility. though, my power-pop band is currently on pause since we all work and go to school full time. writing music is my most favorite and powerful means of expression.
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Postby MileOut » Mon Sep 02, 2002 1:07 pm

To me, the room's description should provide a good detail of the location and be able to maintain the tone of the game. Objects within the room can be referenced although they should not be specified - that's what examining objects is for.

Metaphors, similes, etc. should be relevant to the description. Rather than say - during a horror description - the sentence: "...where a lone headstone stands like a crippled man.."

The crippled man simile may imply that the grave is stooped over through years of weathering and neglect but it may be better to look around the graveyard for a more accurate description. ie. "...where a lone headstone stands like a forlorn angel, it's head bowed in sorrow."

You can expect to see angels in a graveyard - albeit carved in stone - but the writing appears more involved, collected, and experienced.

The only problem is, the words "headstone" and the angel's "head." This is, to be fair, repetition of sorts and can be distracting when read twice within a sentence.

Maybe changing the "headstone" to a "gravestone" would be better.

Give me a place to describe (just a quick word or two, i.e hillside, bar, morgue) and I'll try and write the same description in numerous different tones as I see it: horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery. I'll also cut each part up to explain better.

...then we can look at objects.
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Postby TheDataHacker » Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:36 am

how about an asylum?

or an empty shelter for drifters (not us -- homeless people).
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Postby MileOut » Tue Sep 03, 2002 12:18 pm

Empty Shelter for drifters


Okay, here's two descriptions so far. I'm not too good with science fiction but I've given it a try.

Horror Description

Peering in through the broken window like a vagrant eyeing an abandoned coin, the moon provides the deserted shelter with its only illumination, the silhouettes cast collecting en masse to become one gaping darkness. Flailing in an eerie draught, the myriad 'help the homeless' posters droop from the walls, their corners slouched over the underlying messages. Each table, hidden mostly within the shadows, boasts numerous pitiful meals long gone cold and now - through neglect - a breeding ground for flies, the chairs beneath toppled in an unknown haste. A child's doll, dressed in cobwebs, stares out from under a chair, a silent witness to the shelter's fate.

Science Fiction Description

Refracting light through the perspex window like a twisted rainbow, the plasma torch provides the deserted shelter with grand illumination, dispelling all shadows to the corners of the room. Flashing in fabulous colours, the myriad 'help the homeless' monitors hang from the walls, their messages unreadable at such angles. Each table, cuboids of polished chrome, boasts numerous meals long bittered and now - through neglect - a breeding ground for flies, the chairs beneath toppled in an unknown haste. A child's doll, gently frosted by the malfunctioning air vent, stares out from under a chair, a silent witness to the shelter's fate.

In these descriptions, rather than say that 'this object is here and that object is there' I am effectively showing the reader that it is there without telling them. This is done by not devoting a sentence to the object in question but to mention it it passing.

In the horror passage I am not saying "There is posters on the wall flapping in a draught" but saying that "In a draught" - which I've never mentioned - "there are posters flapping."

Giving an activity to an object - in this case, the flapping posters - adds life to the room, adds motion.

How much more boring would it be if I'd said?

There is a broken window in the shelter through which the moon illuminates the shelter. Posters on the wall are flapping in an eerie draught. All of the tables in the shelter are covered in plates of uneaten food that is now the home of numerous flies. There are a number of chairs that are toppled over in an unknown haste. A child's doll seems to be looking around the room from under a chair.

That paragraph is not involving at all; in fact, it's just a list. There's no atmosphere, no activity - nothing. Unfortunately, a lot of new writers are likely to detail a room in this way, and only practice at giving life to a location will help them improve their descriptive skills. The most important rule to remember, as hinted to before, is to show, don't tell!



Edited By MileOut on 03 Sep. 2002 at 13:38
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Postby MileOut » Tue Sep 03, 2002 12:40 pm

..
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Postby MileOut » Tue Sep 03, 2002 3:05 pm

Hmm, this isn't bumping to the top.
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Postby Matt (Dark Baron) » Tue Sep 03, 2002 3:35 pm

Maybe it's already on the top...
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